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James St Clair

Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

e-mail: james_stclair@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de


About me

About me

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution.  I am broadly interested in behavioural ecology; in other words, understanding variation in animal behaviour in the context of the environment and evolutionary processes.  In my current postdoc, I am working on the extraordinary foraging behaviour of the New Caledonian crow, an island endemic bird that manufactures and uses tools to reach hidden food.  It has been suggested that elements of this foraging behaviour may be culturally inherited. Together with my colleagues at the CrowCoG, I will use experimental and observational approaches to learn how - and why - NC crows express such unusual behaviour.



Lloyd-Jones, D.J, St Clair, J.J.H., Cram, D.L., Yassene, O., van der Wal, J.E.M., & Spottiswoode, C.N. When wax wanes: competitors for beeswax stabilise rather than jeopardize the honeyguide-human mutualism Proceedings B 289 (1987), 20221443


Steele, M.P., Neaves L.E., Klump B.C., JJH St Clair, J.J.H., Fernandes J.R.S.M., Hequet, V., Shaw, P., Hollingsworth, P.M., & Rutz, C. (2021) DNA barcoding identifies cryptic animal tool material. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (29): e2020699118

Klump, B.C., St Clair, J.J.H., & Rutz, C. (2021) New Caledonian crows keep ‘valuable’ hooked tools safer than basic non-hooked tools.  Elife 10: e64829


Halimubieke N., [22 others including St Clair, J.J.H.], & Székely, T. (2020) Successful breeding predicts divorce in plovers. Scientific reports 10 (1): 1-13


Rutz, C., Hunt, G.R., & St Clair, J.J.H. (2018) Corvid technologies: how do New Caledonian crows get their tool designs? Current Biology 28 (18): R1109-R1111

Klump, B.C., Masuda, B.M., St Clair J.J.H., & Rutz, C. (2018) Preliminary observations of tool-processing behaviour in Hawaiian crows Corvus hawaiiensis. Communicative & Integrative Biology 11 (4): e1509637

St Clair, J.J.H., Klump, B.C., Sugasawa, S., Higgott, C.G., Colegrave, N., & Rutz, C. (2018) Hook innovation boosts foraging efficiency in tool-using crows. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2 (3): 441-444


Sugasawa, S., Klump, B.C., St Clair, J.J.H., & Rutz, C. (2017) Causes and consequences of tool shape variation in New Caledonian crows.  Current Biology 27 (24): 3885-3890. e4

Maher, K.H., [14 others including St Clair, J.J.H.], & Küpper, C. (2017) High fidelity: extra‐pair fertilisations in eight Charadrius plover species are not associated with parental relatedness or social mating system.  Journal of Avian Biology 48 (7): 910-920

Vincze, O., [32 others including St Clair, J.J.H.], & Székely, T. (2017) Parental cooperation in a changing climate: fluctuating environments predict shifts in care division.  Global Ecology and Biogeography 26 (3): 347-358


Bulla, M., [74 others including St Clair, J.J.H.], & Kempenaers, B. (2016) Unexpected diversity in socially synchronized rhythms of shorebirds.  Nature 540, 109–113

Rutz, C., [10 others including St Clair, J.J.H.], & Masuda, B.M. (2016) Discovery of species-wide tool use in the Hawaiian crow. Nature 537 (7620): 403-407

Rutz C., Sugasawa, S., Van der Wal, J.E.M., Klump, B.C., & St Clair, J.J.H. (2016) Tool bending in New Caledonian crows.  Royal Society Open Science 3 (8), 160439                 

St Clair, J.J.H., Klump, B.K., Van der Wal, J.E.M., Sugasawa, S., & Rutz, C. (2016) Strong between-site variation in New Caledonian crows’ use of hook-tool-making materials.   Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 118 (2): 226-232


Klump, B.C., Sugasawa, S., St Clair, J.J.H. & Rutz, C. (2015) Hook tool manufacture in New Caledonian crows: behavioural variation and the influence of raw materials. BMC Biology 13 (1): 1-15

Klump, B.C., van der Wal, J., St Clair, J.J.H. & Rutz, C. (2015) Context-dependent safekeeping of foraging tools in New Caledonian crows. Proceedings of the Royal Society B – Biological Sciences 282: 20150278

St Clair, J.J.H., Burns, Z.T., Bettaney, E.M., Morrissey, M.B., Otis, B., Ryder, T.B., Fleischer R.C., James, R. & Rutz, C. (2015) Social network dynamics and the potential for information flow in tool-using crows. Nature Communications 6 (1): 1-8

Bettaney, E.M., James, R., St Clair, J.J.H. & Rutz, C. (2015) Processing and visualising association data from animal-bourne proximity loggers. Animal Biotelemetry 3: 27

Rutz, C., Morrissey, M.B., Burns, Z.T., Burt, J.M., Otis, B., St Clair, J.J.H. & James, R. (2015) Calibrating animal-borne proximity loggers. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 6 (6): 656-667


St Clair, J.J.H. & Rutz, C. (2013) New Caledonian crows attend to multiple functional properties of complex tools. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B – Biological Sciences 368 (1630) 20120415


Rutz, C., Burns, Z.T., James, R., Ismar, S.I., Burt, J., Otis, B., Bowen, J., & St Clair, J.J.H. (2012) Automated mapping of social networks in wild birds. Current Biology 22 (17): R669-R671

Campagna, L., St Clair, J.J.H., Lougheed, S.C., Woods, R.W., Imberti, S. & Tubaro, P.L. (2012) Divergence between passerine populations from the Malvinas - Falkland Islands and their continental counterparts: a comparative phylogeographic study. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 106 (4): 865-879

Rutz, C. & St Clair, J.J.H. (2012) The evolutionary origins and ecological context of tool-use in New Caledonian crows. Behavioural Processes 89 (2): 153–165.


St Clair, J.J.H. (2011) The impacts of invasive rodents on island invertebrates. Biological Conservation 144: 68-81

St Clair, J.J.H., Poncet, S., Sheehan, D., Székely, T. & Hilton, G.M. (2011) Responses of an island endemic invertebrate to rodent invasion and eradication. Animal Conservation 14 (1): 66-73


St Clair, J.J.H., Garçia-Peña, G., Woods, R.W. & Székely, T. (2010) Introduced predators decrease tolerance to human disturbance in a breeding shorebird. Behavioral Ecology 21 (6): 1285-1292

St Clair, J.J.H., Herrmann, P., Woods, R.W. & Székely, T. (2010) Female-biased incubation and strong diel sex-roles in the Two-banded Plover Charadrius falklandicus. Journal of Ornithology 151 (4): 811-816

St Clair, J.J.H., Küpper, C., Herrmann, P., Woods, R.W. and Székely, T. (2010) Unusual incubation sex-roles in the Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius modestus. Ibis 152: 402-404


Benton, T.G., St Clair, J.J.H. and Plaistow, S.J. (2008) Maternal effects mediated by maternal age: from life-histories to population dynamics. Journal of Animal Ecology 77: 1038-1046


Vitousek, M.N., Adelman, J.S., Gregory, N.C. and St Clair, J.J.H. (2007) Heterospecific alarm call recognition in a non-vocal reptile. Biology Letters 3: 632-634

Plaistow, S.J., St Clair, J.J.H., Grant, J. and Benton, T.G. (2007)   How to put all of your eggs in one basket: empirical patterns of offspring provisioning throughout a mother’s lifetime. American Naturalist 170: 520-529